***Economic Data**** - (US) Apr Chicago National Activity Index: 0.29 v 0.13 prior - (TU) Turkey May Capacity Utilization: 73.4% v 72.2% prior; Industrial Confidence: 115.1 v 118.8 prior - (US) Apr Existing Home Sales: 5.77M 5.65Me - (MX) Mexico Apr preliminary Trade Balance: $194.7M v $21.5Me - (IS) Israel Central Bank leaves Base Rate unchanged at 1.50%, as expected
- US equity markets traded off in the premarket and opened slightly lower this morning, although all three major indices have pared losses with both the S&P and NASDAQ trading into positive territory. Note that Asian indices gained strongly in Monday's session on word China was backing away from some key property market restraints. April existing home sales beat expectations comfortably thanks to some returning confidence but mostly to the final impact of the government's first-time homebuyer tax credit. Nevertheless, the NAR warned investors to expect a temporary pullback in home sales in the months ahead due to the expiration of the tax credit. The euro has backed away from the higher levels seen late last week, and EUR/USD is below the 1.24 handle this morning. In Europe, Spain seized troubled regional bank CajaSur, although it's worth noting that the bank has been a problem for years and some sharp commentators have pointed out that the press is making more of the event than is warranted. More worrying is a general strike brewing in Spain, where the major unions have been sharpening their rhetoric towards government austerity plans. Front-month crude is flat, with the contract trading just above the $70 handle. US Treasury markets have managed to consolidate last week's gains and the flattening seen along the curve. The 10-year yield is hovering around 3.2% while the benchmark spread remains below 250 basis points ahead of this week's coupon auctions.
- In Washington the financial overhaul bill is heading into a conference committee, to be chaired by Rep Frank. The New York Times wrote that when the bill goes into effect it could pressure ratings of the US banks, which would leave banks with billions of dollars in additional financing costs. Shares of Citigroup are up nearly 4% after Goldman Sachs upgraded the name to a Buy. With the exception of Goldman, the rest of the big banks are in the red. Campbell Soup was modestly ahead of expectations and slightly increased its 2010 guidance. Solar name Yingli Green was thoroughly in line with the Street. There has been some scattered M&A action this morning, but no mega deals. Odyssey Healthcare will be acquired by Gentiva Health for $27/shr, in a transaction valued at $1.0B. IBM bought an AT&T unit to expand their B2B services for $1.4B.
- USD/JPY moved higher following the Libor fixing to test the 90.50 area. However, sentiment remained fixated on the European peripheral situation ahead of Spanish and Portugal debt auctions later this week. European officials continue to optimistically call the euro a stable currency despite all evidence to the contrary. EUR/CHF is reflecting continued chatter that the SNB might have sold EUR/USD to diversify into dollars and offload some of its steady accumulation of euros over the last few months. There is chatter that other central banks might pursue a similar course, with even Russia mentioned as a dollar buyer. The IMF commented that Spain's economy needed comprehensive reforms, including labor and pension reform but added the country's large fiscal deficit was beginning to decline as consolidation began. Note that the beleaguered EUR/USD is finding some technical supported at the 1.2350 area.
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